Teratography (2007)

for violin, viola, piano, 'cello
By Kyle Bartlett

When I started out with Teratography my aim was to construct situations inside an atonal, noisy musical universe, in which the only “rational” progression would be the quotation of several of my favorite British rock songs. But as I worked at this, I realized that, not only was it insanely difficult, I could only end up with the musical equivalent of turning oneā??s eyelids inside out. Almost entirely pointless, and something that should not be done in public. So I set about on a different path. “Teratography” is my own construction from the Greek (terato = monster, graphy = writing, describing) to describe the somewhat monstrous love-child of my comfortably familiar sonic vocabulary with the very uncomfortable (for me) constraints of the rock song form. My music is often based on endless forward movement, continuous variation following the logic of dreams or the breath. The perfect rock song form is a repeating construction of verse and chorus, punctuated by the transitional material of the bridge and the big release of the guitar solo followed by the return of the chorus with even more strength. I worked to create an environment in which this repetition would lend a power of insistence in my material and develop an instantly recognizable and attractive path for the listening audience. I have made my peace with this constricted form by pushing the boundaries of variation that it can allow. Thus, the returns of the chorus are not so much clones, as perhaps cousins. And still, I quoted two British rock songs, but fittingly enough, two that also pushed the boundaries of the pop music of their time. In spite of giving away the joke, I will tell you to listen for scraps of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” and “FraKctured” by King Crimson.

Other works by Kyle Bartlett:
“Make music of everthing.”
--Georges Aperghis